MOSCOW – A new institution that aims to provide theological education via the Internet was named the Methodist E-Academy at a recent meeting of the United Methodist Theological Schools in Europe (UMTSE).
An ongoing project since 2006, the academy’s development has been led by an advisory board chaired by Bishop Patrick Streiff of Central and Southern Europe. Instructors who will conduct the online courses were trained at a gathering just prior to the Feb 8-9 meeting of the European school leaders.
The courses will address the growing need to provide theological education for prospective pastors for United Methodist churches, especially in Eastern Europe. The United Methodist Church is growing in Eastern Europe, but its numbers are not yet large enough to warrant establishing and supporting new local United Methodist seminaries.
Founded in 1999, UMTSE was created to better coordinate United Methodist training in Europe.
The E-Academy was conceived during the association’s meeting in February 2006, when the group proposed that prospective elders should receive their theological education at non-United Methodist institutions in their own countries, supplemented by online courses in United Methodist studies.
Technical assistance has come from theological educators in the United States and Great Britain. The Methodist E-Academy will make theological education available for persons in Europe unable to access education in more traditional ways.
Although this plan started with United Methodist churches in Europe, it now works in cooperation with The Methodist Church in Britain and the autonomous Methodist churches in Portugal and Italy.
The Methodist E-Academy will offer its first courses in United Methodist studies in the coming months, with plans to expand the offerings to include courses for the training of local pastors and lay preachers. – United Methodist News Service.